complaints, News, rants

You don’t work for free! Don’t expect journalists to work for free!

It’s a shame that today’s featured photo/meme is so truthful. Journalism shouldn’t be a “joke” profession.

Today’s rant is inspired by a comment I read on The New York Times’s Facebook page. The comment was in response to an article about Dolly Parton’s attempts (and unfortunate failure) to motivate Tennesseans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The person had cut and pasted the op-ed article, written by Margaret Renkl, into the comment section on Facebook. Then she left another comment directly under it that read, “F*ck paywalls!”

A little mood music. Like Rodney Dangerfield, writers don’t get no respect…

I left her a comment that read, “Do you work for free?” Someone “laughed” at that. I’m not sure why it was a funny comment. Maybe she saw my point, or maybe she thinks paying for news is crazy. I don’t think it’s an outrageous concept at all. Many people go to school to learn how to write the news. I also know for a fact that plenty of people can’t write for shit. They can’t formulate ideas in a coherent way, produce grammatically correct material, or even spell worth a damn. I’m glad there are actual writers with talent, education, and skill who write for publications like The New York Times. The average person should have more respect for what journalists and other writers do, and stop expecting them to work for free.

It really bugs me that people complain about having to pay for newspaper subscriptions. Do people really not understand that journalism is a legitimate and extremely important profession? That’s right, it’s actually WORK to write something of good quality, especially something that is considered publishable in a respected newspaper. It takes time and money to gather the news, and it takes talent to write a piece that is enjoyable enough to finish. Why do so many people think it’s acceptable to “steal” content? Would these same people walk into a store and steal a book or a printed newspaper?

Journalism is a time honored and vital profession. We rely on journalists to deliver the news in a timely and accurate fashion. Newspapers also offer opinions, which give us something to think about and discuss with friends and loved ones, or even in blog posts like this one. They contain recipes, reviews, and classified ads, all of which are useful and valuable to the public. The people who deliver the news– yes, even online– have to eat, just like you do. They have to gas up their cars, pay for housing, and keep the lights on. They deserve to be paid for their work. One way that can happen is when people purchase subscriptions. That’s how newspapers stay afloat.

Sadly, newspapers are dying. According to The Guardian, which doesn’t put its content behind a paywall, but does welcome donations, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “the newspaper industry has lost more than 50% of its employees since 2001. While several big national papers like the New York Times are healthy, more typical are the closures, bankruptcies, and extreme downsizing that increasingly leave cities, towns and rural communities without local news.”

The Internet has been very tough on the newspaper industry. People can pick and choose from so many different papers or other news sources. It used to be common to subscribe to the paper in one’s community. But now, we can all go online and read from an endless array of newspapers from around the world or watch an array of news on television or the Internet. While more people than ever are reading the news, there’s a lot less money to go around to support the papers. And so, a lot of newspapers have died or are dying. If too many of them die, it could lead to the death of freedom itself. Journalism is vital to providing unbiased information to the masses.

I understand that newspaper subscriptions are expensive, especially if you don’t have a lot of money. There are “free” sources of news, that rely mostly on ads to get revenue. Some papers also offer a few free articles per month as a public service or incentive to subscribe. So often, though, I read rude comments from people who lament about having to pay to read. I’m sure you don’t work for free. Why should journalists and publishers? If people don’t pay for a subscription, how can we expect them to keep writing high quality content?

What’s the alternative to not paying for news? The abolition of the free press is one alternative, but that would come at a high price. It would likely mean we’d mostly be getting news that is heavily slanted by bias and the preferences of the benefactor. I don’t generally rant a lot about communism or socialism in this blog, but in this case, I think it makes sense. If the government alone provides the news, how truthful do you think it would be? The same thing goes for a businesses that provide the news. There needs to be a healthy balance of news sources available in a free society. Without money, it’s not possible to maintain news sources. Writing for news outlets can be a stressful, dangerous job, too. Plenty of journalists have put themselves in harm’s way to get stories for the world. Sometimes, those career decisions end in tragedy.

At this writing, I subscribe to several newspapers. I get The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Irish Times, and my hometown paper, the Gazette-Journal. I also subscribe to an online periodical called The Local: Germany, which provides news about Germany in English, and The Atlantic magazine, which regularly depresses me, but does provide some food for thought. Most people don’t want or need to subscribe to as many papers as I do. I like to have the subscriptions, though, because they help me write my blog.

I don’t get paid to write this blog, but I am a big believer in accuracy and quality. I like to be able to quote sources. It’s much harder to do that if I don’t have newspaper subscriptions that allow me to read and research as much as I need or want. So, while I personally get something out of my subscriptions, I’d like to think that anyone who reads my blog might also get something from them, since this blog doesn’t cost anything to read. Of course, this blog isn’t a news source, nor is it particularly highbrow journalism. No one should be reading my blog for anything more than entertainment value, even though I have found myself quoted in undergraduate and high school academic papers and on Wikipedia. 😀 I get a kick out of that, especially since they refer to me as “The Overeducated Housewife”. Just this morning, I found myself quoted in a term paper offered for sale on a site called Course Hero. I guess I’ve arrived… or education standards have really slipped.

Since I don’t like hypocrisy, I just contributed 50 euros to The Guardian, since I do use that paper sometimes. I used to be a regular patron, but I accidentally unsubscribed when I tried to turn off auto-pay. I did that because I don’t like auto-pay deducting money from my bank account. I prefer to do it manually and consciously. That way, I can be sure there’s enough money in my account and I still want or need the subscription.

I also like to contribute money to causes and needy individuals, although I’ve found that a whole lot of people neglect to say “thank you”. I just gave a dog rescue $200 through their donation link. I’ve never even adopted from this outfit. But so far, I’ve not gotten so much as a “thanks” from them. So that will probably be the only time I send them any money, since I know there are so many other rescues in need. Ditto for people– sometimes even “friends” on GoFundMe– who ask for money and then don’t even express appreciation.

Newspapers are different, though, because they truly do offer a valuable and VITAL service, particularly in a free society. I think the availability of quality journalism is very important and worth paying for, so I will continue to chastise people like the woman on Facebook who wrote “f*ck paywalls” underneath the content she stole from The New York Times. I’d like to tell her, “Lady, you’re not Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Newspapers NEED your financial support. So fuck you for saying ‘f*ck paywalls’. I hope someone stiffs you sometime. Maybe you’ll learn some empathy.”

I don’t like to be preachy or shaming, but really… think about this for a moment. Consider paying to subscribe to at least one news source. The press needs your support, and your mind will be better off for actually reading, and paying for, your news.

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News

Back from Heidelberg…

I’ve been busily updating my travel blog with the story of our quick trip. I always like to write travel posts soon after I get home, so I don’t forget too many details. We had a great little break. It reminded us that we need a longer one… perhaps out in the country in a beautiful self-catering house near a beach… or in the mountain near a lake. I’m flexible.

My birthday was great! We spent lots of money and ate so much good food… and drank a lot of wine and other alcoholic treats. Sadly, we had a bit of a mishap last night. As Arran was cozying up to Bill, having a reunion bonding session, I noticed blood on his coat. At first, I wondered if he got hurt at the boarding facility, which would have been a huge bummer. But then I realized I have a video of him right before we picked him up and he was fine. Then I looked at the wound and realized it was really fresh. I think Arran ran under one of the bushes in the backyard and cut himself. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s done that. He did it a few months ago on his right shoulder.

I realized the cut was pretty deep, although it wasn’t bleeding much. Bill ended up taking him to the emergency clinic. They had to wait many hours before they could be seen because last night was very busy. Bill got there at about 9:30pm and wasn’t home until 4:30am. Arran got debridement, five stitches, antibiotics, and painkillers. The bill was 825 euros. He doesn’t seem to be any worse for wear, other than the shaved part of his left neck near his shoulder. He’s been napping today and was happy to take a walk a little while ago.

Noyzi did very well at the boarding facility. I think the lady who watched him fell in love. I can understand why. He’s very handsome and sweet. So now that we know he’ll do alright at the boarding house, maybe we can travel more and my mood will improve. I like having things to write about that don’t involve complaints or politics. I just wish our local Internet was better. When I try to upload batches of photos, my Internet crashes.

I haven’t had too much time to read the news, so I can’t think of anything newsworthy to write about right now. Actually, I feel like I need a nap after last night’s drama. I can only imagine how exhausted Bill must be. He is a day person who doesn’t sleep well in the best of circumstances. I’ll bet he’ll be dead on his feet tonight.

Anyway… my birthday was great. 49 is not too bad so far. Bonus… Aunt Flow didn’t bother me while we were enjoying our trip. My sister sent me a birthday e-card starring Donny Osmond. How could it get any better, ignoring Arran’s veterinary mishap, anyway?

Maybe tomorrow, it’ll be back to business as usual.

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News

Off on a very brief holiday…

My birthday is Sunday, so Bill and I are going to go to Heidelberg for the weekend. It’s our first trip away since October of last year, so we’re looking forward to it. This morning, we took the dogs to the Hunde Pension, and it was the first time I had been out of our immediate area (not counting the local Army installation) in many months. This is Noyzi’s first time in a short term boarding situation, which is why we’re only doing two nights.. I think he’ll be fine. There were lots of friendly dogs at the hotel and I think he’ll make friends. Arran, of course, seems to love going there.

We managed to get our COVID passports done, so we should be all set to enjoy ourselves. I probably won’t post anything tomorrow, because I will be too busy enjoying a much needed break and I don’t plan to bring my computer for such a short trip. But I expect on Sunday, I’ll be writing posts on the travel blog, at the very least.

Hottie knotty…. although at this point, I’m just hot because it’s 90 degrees outside and there’s no air conditioning.

Hope everyone enjoys celebrating Juneteenth, Father’s Day… and if you are also having a birthday, Happy Birthday, too! As of Sunday, I’ll be on the glide path to 50. Time flies when you’re having fun.

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News, tragedies

April really is cruel…

Last night, as I was making more travel plans, I was blissfully oblivious to the horror unfolding in Paris, as its famous Notre Dame cathedral smoldered in a massive fire. I have been to Paris twice, but never managed to tour the cathedral on either visit. I do remember seeing it as we walked along the Seine, but I also remember my former best friend’s dad telling me back in 1992 to skip climbing the tower at the cathedral. I do like visiting beautiful churches in Europe, but it’s not really a focal point of what I do when I go places. Paris has a lot to see, so visiting Notre Dame was never at the top of my list of things to do there. I regret it now.

The cathedral was being renovated when it caught on fire, just as it was at Longwood when Ruffner Hall caught on fire. It seems that renovations can raise the risk of sudden fires.

It seems like April is often rife with tragedies. I never paid a lot of attention to it until around 1999 or so, when students at Columbine High School were confronted by the murderous wrath of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold as they shot up the school. Other school shootings would occur during April, like the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. But it’s not just the shootings and bombings, or even T.S. Eliot’s famed words that make April cruel…

I remember in the spring 2001, when Ruffner Hall, the most historic and beautiful building at my alma mater, Longwood University, was being restored. I was then a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, about to finish my second year of a three year dual master’s degree program. The weather was warm and sunny, and I had visions of the end of the semester dancing in my head. I’m sure it was the same at Longwood, the college from which I had graduated seven years prior. In 2001, Longwood was still known as Longwood College. It was renamed Longwood University in 2002.

On April 24, 2001, just before students were about to take their final exams for the semester, the Rotunda caught on fire. Fortunately, because the building was being renovated, just as Notre Dame also was, priceless art and historical relics had been removed before a raging fire consumed the original building. That beautiful building held so many memories, not just for me, but for all of the students that passed through it after it opened in 1907. Longwood’s name has been changed a few times in its history. Before each name change, there has historically been a fire. There were also fires in 1927 and 1949; both occurred just before the school’s name changed.

A picture of the original Rotunda taken in the 90s, when I was a student. Inside Ruffner is a statue of Joan of Arc– better known as Joanie on the Stoney. We also have a statue of Joan of Arc on a horse called Joanie on the Pony. Paris’s Notre Dame, likewise, has a statue of Joan of Arc.

I happened to live in the Colonnades during the first two years of my college days. My freshman year, I lived in Tabb Hall, which connected to Ruffner. At night, when the building was closed to everyone else on campus, my buddies would sneak into the Rotunda area and box. I only recall watching this one time. I’m surprised they were never busted, to be very honest. I’m sure nowadays, they have security cameras. But it was a lot of fun to sneak into Ruffner and mess around after hours. Unlike the bell tower at Fordham University, there was no danger involved… The lights were on and there were no steep, spiral steps to climb… and no holes to pass through on landings. At the front door of the building, there was a slate step that had a deep indentation worn into it from decades of students walking across it.

Sophomore year, I lived in French Hall, which was also connected to Ruffner. French is no longer a residence hall, but in the 1990s, it had the largest rooms on campus. Some rooms held four students. Most had at least three. My room only had three students for part of the first semester. We had a roommate who moved in mid semester– she had been my roommate’s freshman year roomie, and she had to move from her room because she and her original sophomore year roommate were caught smoking marijuana. She didn’t come back in the spring. That was a pretty stressful, yet awesome year. I lived among friends.

The other two years, I lived in South Cunningham. The Cunninghams used to be the center of campus. They were eventually razed for a new student center. My former university is becoming less recognizable to me, as new buildings are being built and old ones are being rebuilt.

Ruffner was also rebuilt, and it now looks just like it did before the big fire of 2001. It took four years to rebuild the historic hall to its former glory, and during that time, Dr. James Jordan, an esteemed anthropology professor and archaeologist who taught at Longwood for many years, did several archaeological digs. He found many long buried relics among the ashes. The damaged step was found and when the building was reconstructed, a replica of the historic indented step was made for the new building.

As I heard about Notre Dame last night, I couldn’t help but remember the Rotunda at my alma mater, and how it’s been rebuilt. Maybe it’s not the same… Notre Dame has a history dating back to the 12th century. It took many years to build it, but only one fiery evening to destroy it. On the other hand… even in destruction, there is opportunity for new growth, new discoveries, and rebirth. I’m certain that in the ashes of the fire, new discoveries will be made, new knowledge will be gleaned, history will be made and recorded, and the cathedral will be rebuilt. In fact, French billionaire François-Henri Pinault has already pledged $100 million euros to rebuild the cathedral (and hours later, at least 200 million more has been pledged by other donors). French president Emmanuel Macron has also vowed to rebuild the cathedral.

This is an opportunity for people to unite. It’s an opportunity for architects, craftsmen, construction workers, archaeologists, students, teachers, holy people, and the public to come together in solidarity. Many new discoveries will be made and the cathedral, just like Ruffner Hall, will be rebuilt stronger than ever. But it will take time, effort, and money. I may never see the end result in my lifetime. Still, as bad as this is, it could have been much worse. As sad as it will be to dig through the wreckage, I know there will also be excitement and fascination. Every situation– even the worst ones– offers opportunities. So I will try to focus on that, instead of tragedy of the tremendous loss wrought by sudden fire.

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News, Uncategorized

North Carolina is thinking about changing the grading scale…

I just read a short article about North Carolina’s General Assembly’s decision to consider changing the grading scale used to determine a school’s quality. Schools in North Carolina are currently assigned grades to determine how good they are. So, although students in North Carolina are currently graded on a “ten point” grading scale, the General Assembly is considering changing the school performance scale so that an “A” would equal a grade above 85 percent and an “F” would be anything under 40 percent.

When I was in school, we had a five point grading scale. If you wanted an “A”, you had to score 95 percent or higher. A “B” was anything between 88 and 94. A “C” was anything between 87 and 76. A “D” was a grade between 75 and 70. And anything under 69 percent was an “F”. When I went to college, we had a more liberal ten point scale, which made it easier to get better grades.

This new scale wouldn’t affect students’ grades. They would still be evaluated on a ten point scale. But it does allow schools to have more leeway in their performance. A school that scores 85 percent would be awarded a grade of “A”. It doesn’t seem right to me, although I know teachers work very hard with few resources.

I used to be somewhat against homeschooling, but I can see why so many parents want to do it nowadays. It seems like the quality of public education is really backsliding. Aside from that, parents have to worry about their kids being killed in shootings. I did really want to have children, but I swear, the state of the world today makes me glad I never did.


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